Strikes hit Syria as country had 'chance for peaceful future': Moscow

Damascus skies were alight as the US and allies launched attacks targeting several sites in the capital

She declined to say whether Bashar al-Assad should stay in power and said talks with allies would continue on finding a political solution to the civil war.

Among the more bombastic tweets was that of U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham who wrote, "We should apply "3 strikes, you're out" to the butcher of Damascus".

The joint operation came one week after a suspected chemical attack outside Damascus left more than 40 people dead.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was set to begin its investigation inside the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma on Saturday, just hours after the strikes. "This massacre was a significant escalation in a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very awful regime".

"America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria under no circumstances", Mr. Trump said Friday night.

There were no details on non-civilian casualties. "So there is no practicable alternative to the use of force to degrade and deter the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Regime". The combined forces are prepared to respond until Syria no longer use chemical weapons on its citizens.

Washington described its targets as a centre near Damascus for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological weapons, a chemical weapons storage site near the city of Homs and another site near Homs that stored chemical weapons equipment and housed a command post.

The US, UK, and France hit three targets in the Damascus suburbs around 9pm EDT on Friday using aircraft and cruise missiles launched from ships.

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Around 103 missiles were fired at Syria with the aim of degrading Syria's chemical weapons capability without killing civilians.

"That is why, with our allies, we ensured that the Russians were notified ahead of time". Syrians crowded onto the streets in noisy demonstrations of defiance afterward and their ally Russian Federation denounced the attack.

Nevertheless, says The New York Times, "the strikes risked pulling the United States deeper into the complex, multisided war in Syria and raised the possibility of confrontation with Russian Federation and Iran". It said air defenses confronted the attack and had shot down 13 missiles in the Kiswah area south of Damascus.

"This persistent pattern of behavior must be stopped - not just to protect innocent people in Syria from the horrific deaths and casualties caused by chemical weapons but also because we can not allow the erosion of the worldwide norm that prevents the use of these weapons", she said.

Russia's United States embassy released a statement warning that the airstrikes will "not be left without consequences", adding that "all responsibility" rests with Washington, London and Paris.

Trump chastised Syria's two main allies, Russia and Iran, for their roles in supporting "murderous dictators", and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed a 2013 worldwide agreement for Assad to get rid of all of his chemical weapons.

"A large part of its chemical arsenal has been destroyed".

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